Flexible working could boost economy by £90 billion, claims report

Laptop on Kitchen Table with Cup of CoffeeThe widespread adoption of flexible working in the UK could boost the economy by as much as £90 billion each year according to a new report from mobile tech firm Citrix and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr). The study of 1,272 British knowledge workers claims that their ‘best case scenario’  calculation is based on saving UK workers £7.1 billion in commuting costs and over half a billion hours spent travelling. This would add around £11.5 biliion annually to the economy. The report also suggests that an even greater boost to GDP could come from the introduction of a large number of currently unemployed and underemployed individuals such as the retired, disabled and  stay-at-home parents. By tapping this pool of talent the report claims that the economy would benefit by up to £78.5 billion annually, equivalent to nearly 5 percent of GDP.

Citrix-Cebr-Flexible-Working-infographicThe study claims that 96 percent of the UK knowledge worker population that have the option of flexible working utilise this opportunity, whilst 83 percent would do so if made available to them. This could potentially add an extra £11.5bn per year to the UK economy through the more productive use of available working hours, the equivalent of 0.7 of GDP. In addition, more extensive flexible working practices could save commuters £7.1bn, with a reduction in commuting costs and time spent travelling.

The research also claims that there is currently a high demand from employees in the UK to work more flexibly. 94 percent of UK knowledge workers would opt to work from home on average two days per working week. If organisational culture throughout the United Kingdom changed to allow for this, there would be savings in commuter costs of £3.8bn, with a further reduction of 533 million hours spent travelling to and from work annually (increasing these savings to £7.1bn the commuter value of time is taken into account). Such changes would result in an improved work-life balance as well as considerable financial gain for individuals.

In addition to improving the work/life balance of those currently in full-time employment, the authors of the report also claim that the desire for more flexible working opportunities could deliver significant benefits to the wider UK economy by engaging people previously excluded.

  • 68 percent of those currently unemployed, retired, carers, disabled, long-term sick or a full-time house-husband/wife would be inclined to start working if given the opportunity to work flexibly. Should this economically inactive part of the UK population re-enter the workforce due to a change in working culture, this could boost the UK’s GVA by up to £78.5bn (adding 4.7 percent to the total UK GDP)
  • 60 percent of part-time working respondents indicated that they would be inclined to work more hours if given the opportunity to work remotely. With 745,000 part-time workers in the UK who would like to work remotely, this could potentially create an additional £1.6bn in GVA output.

“Over recent years many organisations have become firm advocates of the benefits of flexible working and this study verifies the impact such a culture can bring to the wider UK economy,” said Jacqueline de Rojas, Area Vice President, Northern Europe, Citrix. “Technology now enables us to work from anywhere, at any time. It is time to move on from judging workers on how long they spend at their desks to evaluating them on the work they actually deliver. By realising that employees do not have to be in the office from nine to five, employers will reap the benefits of an even more productive, contented workforce – and as illustrated here, reaching a new, untapped pool of talent in the process.”